Monthly Archives: August 2011

Go Green: buy antiques

For a long time I’ve been designinghomes where we’ve mixed old or antique furniture with more contemporary pieces to create a more eclectic look. Well now I have another reason for buying antiques: they’re greener.

After years of falling prices antiques are now as cheap as they have ever been with what is often called brown furniture selling for very low prices.

Buying a Victorian chest of drawers is a greener option than buying new

Don’t get me wrong, antiques can still be investment pieces, the good Gillows, Liberty and Chippendales are still commanding exceptional prices, and good quality Georgian and Victorian pieces are still making good money at auction.  But it can be cheaper to buy an antique piece, than its flat pack equivalent, and importantly it will hold its value. And what is really important is that this is a greener option too. During the 1980’s elegant mahogany and oak furniture saw something of a renaissance in the auction houses as we clamored to fill our houses with period pieces but in the 1990s and 2000s we started looking to the future. Scandinavian design was very much in fashion and we moved away from ‘brown furniture’.  A few of us still sold these pieces, often hand painted to emulate the Scandinavian look but flat pack and the rise of Ikea seemed to take over.

I now think we will see a shift away from flat pack furniture, not least because you can now pick up a well made, solid wood piece which will last for another 100 years or more for the equivalent price and it’s greener too. The energy and materials needed to make it have already been used so its impact on the planet and our precious resources is negligible. Your modern flat pack furniture uses new wood and energy to manufacture it, it’s probably made of particle board, fibre board and polyurethane/acrylic paint, it uses petroleum products and energy and will last 5 – 50 years if you’re lucky.

Combining antiques with contemporary pieces like these beautiful chairs creates an eclectic look

 So if you’re looking to a brighter, greener future, take a look at what’s on sale at our local auction houses and antique centres. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll come to love a little piece of history in your home.

If you need help finding the right piece for your home or how to get the right look, please give me a call Tel: 01572 747318 or 07973843020 or drop me an email: alison@alisonhutchinsondesign.co.uk

 

 

How should I decorate my small room?

If you are at a loss as to how to decorate a small room in your house, read on. I have some simple tips which will help transform your interior space.

In a small room you need to concentrate on furniture placement and decorating.

Lift furniture off the floor to make rooms appear larger

It’s all about keeping good proportions within the room so lift things off the floor and create several heights: floor level; waist level and above your head, for a sense of depth. This is critical to ensure the space looks open and light.

Keep tidy!Clearing clutter always helps to make a room look larger. Make sure everything that is not decorating your room is stored away.

Co-ordinate colours in a small room to open up the space

In kitchens and living rooms use furniture with doors to hide the bits and pieces that do not add to your room’s relaxed feel. 

Think tall. Ensure curtains go to the floor, this draws the eye from the floor all the way to the ceiling and helps make a room taller.

Dress windows with roman blinds or curtains to the floor to add height to a small room

If you have a radiator under a window and don’t want to block heat in the winter use a double rail with curtains to draw and dress curtains to the floor, or opt for a roman blind and floor length curtains.

Less is more! Do not use small accessories or too many – a few larger pieces give balance and make the room volumes look taller and bigger.

Use light. Central lighting can take up too much space and create shadows around the edge of the room. Use up-lighters to create volume above eye level and add side lamps to create mood.

Mirror Mirror on the wall.  Mirrors add visual space and fools the eye into making a room feel light and larger. Place mirrors behind lamps for added reflections. And use reflective surfaces on furniture too – Venetian glass furniture has seen a revival in recent years and is now competitively priced.

Mirrors and good lighting help make a room appear larger

BIG or small furniture?Make sure your furniture doesn’t dwarf your room: think about its scale. One large piece can work well but if you clutter the room you will make it appear smaller. Try to choose pieces that don’t go right to the floor but are on legs or wall mounted to create added space. Allow for different heights in your furniture to work the floor level, waist level and above the head space too.

Use dainty pieces of furniture in small rooms to make the room appear more spacious

I believe that every space can be comfortable, relaxed and beautiful without you feeling pressured to be perfect.  I would love to help you achieve your beautiful home. If I can help with a home or garden project please give me a call. Alison: 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

What jobs should I do in the garden this month? Garden jobs in August

The summer is upon us and our gardens are flourishing. Now is the time to start thinking ahead to Autumn and beginning to put plans into action which will mean your garden continues to look good and is productive right into winter.

Look after borders now to prepare them for winter

Borders

Trim lavender once it has finished flowering. Hang to dry and then mix with dry rice to fill lavender bags later, or make lavender sugar.  Layer fresh lavender leaves in jars between 3cmof caster sugar. Seal the jars and store to use later – it’s delicious in cakes. Remove flowers before using or crush with the sugar in a pestle and mortar.

Plant colchicums, cyclamens and crocus to naturalise in grass.

Propagating and general maintenance

Take cuttings of established box plants – book on one of my box trimming workshops for next summer.

Spread a compost mulch around fruit bushes, asparagus and rhubarb. Ensure the ground is moist first.

Prune rambler roses.

Prune rambler roses in August

Give hedges a final trim to get them into shape for the autumn.

If you have bare patches of lawn these can be reseeded from the end of the month if the weather cools.

Vegetables

Lift onions and shallots.

Now is the time to harvest onions and shallots

Harvest sweet corn at lunch time and have a pan of boiling water already on the go. Put the cobs straight in and eat as soon as they are ready. They will be delicious as you catch them before any of their natural sugar turns to starch.

Encourage further cropping of beans and courgettes with regular picking.

Harvest main crop potatoes.

Complete summer pruning of trained fruit trees such as espaliers and cordons.

Prune back to ground level summer fruited raspberry canes.

Start to sow seeds for autumn picking. Sow directly into the ground or in modules to plant out later. The following can all be grown well into Autumn and cropped as cut and come

Sow swiss chard now to ensure you have crops well into winter

again. Protect with fleece if you want to continue cutting into winter.  Sow, kale, Swiss chard, mustard spinach, chicory, lambs lettuce, lettuce and rocket now.